Despite repeated complaints by Abuja motorists of cheating and extortion by officials of the Vehicle Inspection Office, VIO, the head of the organisation has absolved his agency of any wrongdoing.
On different occasions, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, encountered some of the complainants at the Mabushi headquarters of the agency.
One of them, Abraham Oyekan, said he gave a VIO official N12,000 to help him renew his vehicle papers since January without result.
Mr. Oyekan identified the official as Bodinga, who apparently bears the same surname with the acting director of the agency, Wadata Bodinga.
“To be honest, Bodinga has been helping me to renew my particulars; I don’t know what went wrong this time around.
“I gave him N12,000 for renewal in January, but he gave me only the vehicle insurance paper without the others.
“He has been giving me all sorts of excuses since then, that’s why I am here to complain,’’ Mr. Oyekan said.
Another complainant, Solomon Vongbut, said he gave an official N15,000 also for renewal of his vehicle papers after he was booked by the official at AYA Roundabout in December.
He said, “The officer collected the originals of the expired particulars and asked me to meet him here at Mabushi the next day for the new papers.
“I’ve been coming here since then, but I don’t see him and when I call him on phone he tells me he is either in the field or out of town.’’
Neither Mr. Vongbut nor the VIO officials in one of the offices where he lodged the verbal complaint was willing to identify the officer involved.
In its reaction, the FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services, DRTS, denied knowledge of money exchanging hands between members of the public and its officials as payment for services.
Wadata Bodinga, the Acting Director of DRTS, popularly known as VIO, told NAN in Abuja that cash payment through its officials had been stopped.
Mr. Bodinga explained that all payments, including vehicle registration, renewal of papers and traffic offences, were now done through the banks.
He said: “The issue of money exchanging hands between our officers and members of the public is what is actually new to me because we have completely eliminated hand payment.
“Our services are now computerised; there is no way an officer can collect money from anybody because every payment is now done through the banks.
“If someone is paying for traffic offence, the offence too is computerised. So, he has to go through the bank and make the payment.’’
Mr. Bodinga was responding to a NAN enquiry about public complaints against some VIO officials, who allegedly collect money from motorists for traffic offences or services not rendered.
The VIO director, who said no such report had been brought to his attention, called on victims to file formal complaints to the agency.
He, however, noted that members of the public accessing the agency’s services through proxies including VIO officials were the ones encouraging illegality in the system.
“People always want to do shortcut, I mean the client themselves. They don’t like waiting in queues for just a few minutes to undergo the procedures.
“They prefer assigning responsibilities and they are the ones encouraging the illegality, because most of their proxies might not even be our staff; they might be touts.
“This is why we are telling people to do it themselves. All our services and relevant charges are pasted everywhere in our premises.
“The banks are also here to attend to you, and I am calling on members of the public to come and do their registration or pay their fines themselves,’’ he said.
Mr. Bodinga stated that the agency was working on an online application portal to bring its services closer to the people.
“We believe that people can start the registration process online at home before coming here to complete it and pick their papers.
“This will not only reduce the human elements in the process but also make things easier for our clients. So, we are trying to commission our website,” he said.